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#8. WHEN CAN A CHRISTIAN MARRY OR REMARRY?

This bible study is explains when a Christian can marry or remarry, printable.

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#8.1 THE CRITERIA FOR JUDGING WHETHER A PERSON CAN LAWFULLY MARRY OR REMARRY

#8.11 Bear in mind how God has told us to judge

When it comes to dealing with situations which involve people who want to marry or remarry, there are certain principles in God's word, that we should bear in mind:

(1) Minister in love

(John 13:34-35) "A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another."
(1 Corinthians 16:14) "Let all your things be done with love."
(1 Thessalonians 4:9) "you yourselves are taught of God to love one another."

This will ensure that at all times we have the best interests of the person that we are ministering to in mind.

(2) Minister in a spirit of meekness

(Galatians 6:1) "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also are tempted."

Remember that when we deal with situations involving divorce and remarriage, we have to minister to people who have either been through, or are going through, traumatic emotional experiences. A spirit of meekness will help to minimise any further upset for them.

(3) Do not lean on our own understanding

(Pro 3:5) "Do not lean on your own understanding."
(Pro 3:7) "Do not be wise in your own eyes:"
(Pro 23:4) "cease from your own wisdom."

If we obey these scriptures, it will stop us from trying to reason out any exceptional circumstances that God does not allow in his word.

(4) Do not add to God's word

(Deuteronomy 4:2) "You shall not add to the word which I command you,"
(Deuteronomy 12:32) "Whatever thing I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add to it."

If we obey these scriptures, it will stop us from adding exceptions for divorce and remarriage that God does not allow.

(5) Do not take away from God's word

(Deuteronomy 4:2) "the word which I command you, nor shall you diminish anything from it,"
(Deuteronomy 12:32) "Whatever thing I command you, ... you shall not ... diminish from it."
(Revelation 22:19) "And if any man shall takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

If we obey these scriptures, it will prevent us from ignoring any scriptures which would make our judgment more acceptable to others (See #6.26).

(6) Judge righteous judgment

In every instance when we come to apply this teaching, it should be done the way the Jesus told us to do it:

(John 7:24) "Do not judge according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

In order to do this we must make our judgments according to the word of God (See #7.04 Note), and not from elsewhere.

#8.12 God's evidence upon which judgments can be made

These are the criteria in God's word by which we may judge each situation concerning whether a person is lawfully free to marry or remarry.

(1) Every person is entitled to one lawful married relationship, as God ordained it to be (Genesis 2:18-25), except where physical deficiencies may prevent (Matthew 19:12).

(2) Any consummated marriage, which is lawful in God's sight, that is, not forbidden, or considered to be sin or abomination in his word, is permanent until the death of one of the partners (See #1.24; #3.7). Divorce should not take place for any reason, but if separation takes place, both partners should remain unmarried, or be reconciled (See #3.2; #3.4; #3.5; #4.1).

(3) Marriages which are not lawful in the sight of God, that is, relationships which are forbidden, or considered to be sin or abomination in his word, should be dissolved in order for the participants to be saved (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 21:8; 22:15). These are listed as follows:

(a) Any type of incestuous relationship with close family (Leviticus 18:6-18; 20:11-12; 20:14; 20:17; 20:19-20). This is fornication.
(b) Any type of homosexual (or lesbian) relationship (Leviticus 18:22; 20:12; Deuteronomy 22:5; Romans 1:24-29). This is fornication.
(c) Any adulterous relationship involving someone who has been married before, and who's first partner is still alive (See #3.4; #3.5; #3.7; #4.1; #4.2; #4.3). This is fornication, and adultery also for one partner at least. Any person who has been set free from one of these unlawful marriage relationships, and who has not been married before, may marry his own lawful partner, without committing adultery (Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:9).
(d) Any polygamous marriage (See #7.18 Polygamy), this is fornication and adultery.

(4) Widows are free to remarry if they so choose, but "only in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 7:39; See #3.7 Note 2).

#8.2 THE METHOD OF JUDGING THE SITUATION

Whether a marriage already exists, or is only a proposed marriage, the procedure is the same for establishing whether the marriage is lawful in God's sight or not. So let us examine this from the point of view of two people coming to the church who require to be married. What questions should we ask them? This is not a counselling session to give advice to people who are about to enter into a lawful marriage, nor is it a method of determining whether the proposed marriage is lawful according to the laws of the land or not. This is a method to determine whether the proposed marriage will be lawful before God. First establish whether either of the proposed marriage partners has been married before. If not, go to #8:21 below, but if so then go to #8.22 below.

#8.21 When neither party has been married before

(1) Does their relationship fall within the forbidden incestuous relationships given in Gods word? (See #8.12 (3a)).
In order to establish this with certainty we would need to enquire whether either or both persons are adopted. It is possible that two young people, who were brother and sister by birth, but were both adopted by different couples, could attempt to marry not even knowing that they are related. If their relationship does contravene God's word here, then the marriage may be refused. If not then proceed to the next point.

(2) Does their relationship fall within the forbidden homosexual (or lesbian) relationships forbidden in God's word? (See #8.12 (3b)).
Remember that transvestites and people who have had sex changes exist today, and the relationship may be wrong even though it looks normal. If their relationship does contravene God's word here, then the marriage may be refused. If not then the proposed marriage is lawful.

#8.22 When one or both parties have been married before

If either or both partners have been married before, then we need to establish how many times for each person. Each marriage needs to be examined separately, starting with the first marriage, and working through to the most recent, in order. Each marriage for that person needs to be analyzed according to the following pattern, until the lawful state of the proposed marriage is established. So begin here with the first marriage of one of the partners who wish to marry. For the purpose of analysis we will call this partner "Partner A", and when examining any previous marriage of "Partner A", we will call that previous marriage partner "Partner B". The word "unlawful" in this analysis means "not lawful before God", and the word "lawful" means "lawful before God".

Start point

STEP 1: Was this marriage of "Partner A" to "Partner B" one of the unlawful marriages relationships, or not (See #8.12 (3) a,b,c,d)?

(1a) If it was, then this marriage was not lawful before God, so we can now go back to the start point, and consider the next marriage of "Partner A". However, if this marriage is the last of "Partner A's" previous marriages then, providing that secular law has legally dissolved every unlawful marriage that "Partner A" has had, "Partner A" is free to enter into a lawful marriage.
(1b) If this previous marriage of "Partner A" was not one of the forbidden relationships, then go to Step 2.

STEP 2: If the previous marriage of "Partner A" was lawful, then we need to ask if "Partner B" is still alive.

(2a) If so, then that is the marriage that God recognizes, and any subsequent marriages are unlawful in his sight as "Partner B" is alive. "Partner A" is not free to enter into a lawful marriage.
(2b) If "Partner B" is dead, then go to Step 3.

STEP 3: If "Partner B" has died there are two possibilities:

(3a) If "Partner A" has had no subsequent marriage since the death "Partner B", then "Partner A" is free to enter into a lawful marriage, as a widow or widower (See #8.1 (4)).
(3b) If, in the case of multiple marriages, a subsequent marriage was undertaken before the death of "Partner B", then that subsequent marriage would be unlawful before God. Go back to the start point, and analyze the next subsequent marriage after the death of "Partner B".

This analysis has been designed to cover almost every possible circumstance, and at some point while going through this analysis you should come across one of the following two statements:

(1) "Partner A" is free to enter into a lawful marriage, or
(2) "Partner A" is not free to enter into a lawful marriage.

When the analysis has been done for each partner for whom it is necessary, if either partner is not free to enter into a lawful marriage, then the marriage should be refused.

#8.23 Marriage Algorithm for when one or both parties have been married before

Begin with the first marriage of one of the partners who wish to marry. For the purpose of analysis we will call this partner "Partner A", and when examining any previous marriage of "Partner A", we will call that previous marriage partner "Partner B". Start with the first marriage of "Partner A", and work through to the most recent, in order. Each marriage for "Partner A" needs to be analyzed according to the following pattern, until the lawful state of the proposed marriage is established. The word "unlawful" in this algorithm means "not lawful before God", and the word "lawful" means "lawful before God".

When can I marry or remarry Algorithm

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